Around 1,000 athletes participating in the Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018 and 500 people with intellectual disabilities from Abu Dhabi who are not Special Olympics athletes were today officially invited to take part in Healthy Athletes®, made possible by the Golisano Foundation.
HE Prof Dr. Maha Barakat, Senior Advisor, Abu Dhabi Executive Office, announced that athletes taking part in the games who have a range of untreated conditions, including hearing, dental and sight problems, will receive free treatment as well as medical aids.
“The Healthy Athletes Programme is a free programme providing health screenings and education for Special Olympics athletes. The importance of this is to uncover problems that are unbeknown to the individual.
“The host city Abu Dhabi, along with public and private sector partners like the Golisano Foundation, have generously contributed to cover the costs of the screenings.
“If we find untreated dental decay, we will treat it. If we find athletes with reduced hearing, they will be given free hearing aids. If we find that they have visual problems that can be corrected with medical glasses, they will be given medical glasses and we also have a series of health promotions stations that will give advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“The aim of these free programmes is that the athletes don’t just come to compete in the games, but that they return to their different countries in better health and with healthier lifestyles.”
Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International, who travelled to the UAE for the IX MENA Games, welcomed the athletes to take part in free health screenings conducted by a team of local health clinicians.
“We are here to meet the athletes face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart and to end the labelling that leads to discrimination and marginalization once and for all.”
Dr Shriver praised the UAE for its commitment to inclusion across every segment of society. “The term ‘disability’ has been erased here in the UAE – it has been replaced with ‘determination’,” he said.
Special Olympics IX MENA Games are open to members of the public and free to attend, with around 25,000 spectators expected to visit the Games. More than 1,000 athletes from 31 countries are currently in Abu Dhabi to take part in MENA IX Games.